Friday Night Lights checks out Rockdale County at South Gwinnett

One star of South Gwinnett homecoming is leaning to Alabama

SNELLVILLE, Ga. – While Rockdale County at South Gwinnett was not a veritable plethora or melting pot of high D-1 football prospects, there was one man in this game that dozens of major schools would love to have rushing the quarterback for them in two years. More on him, and some possible diamonds in the rough, just below. Oh, it was Homecoming and Pink Out Night to salute Breast Cancer prevention. Even the refs wore pink sweat bands and whistles. South Gwinnett won, 53-21. To the categories:

TOP PROSPECT: has South Gwinnett junior Justin Mascoll  as the no. 4 defensive end in his class at 6-4, 227 per Scout, but it looks in person like his game program stats of 6-5, 237 are accurate.  He’s known for terrorizing opposing quarterbacks and ball carriers, and other teams have to account him on every offensive snap.

Georgia and Clemson are in his top two, and he’s also looking hard at Florida State and North Carolina. Overall, he’s ranked 25 in his class by Scout of all 2018 graduates.

Said South Gwinnett Coach John Small of Mascoll: “He’s a heck of a player. He can do a lot of different things on defense. He can put his hand down, he can drop in coverage and cover somebody, he can set the edge, and he can rush the passer. He’s very mobile and diverse kid with what he can do for you.

“He brings unbelievable leadership, character, and he’s not a ‘me’ guy. He’s a team guy who tries to make everybody around him better, and he wants all the recognition to go to them. He doesn’t want any of it.”

Is he a lock to the Dogs of Kirby Smart? Not according to what Mascoll recently told Scout’s Chad Simmons: "Any school can come in here and I am still open to all of my options," said Mascoll.  "UGA is my top school, but anything can happen because I am not committing until my senior year.

"I am going to keep taking visits and compare everyone to Georgia.  I am not done with recruiting.  I still have a long way to go."

Unofficially, Mascoll recorded three tackles, four quarterback hurries, and one tackle for a loss. They run away from him a lot. Why?

“He’s a big old fast, muscular guy,” said Rockdale Coach Greg Manior. “He’s very aggressive, and he gives teams a hard time. He’s a good player.”

Alabama has offered, but right now the Tide is on the outside looking in. (See what I did there? It’s “Tide is,” not “Tide are,” as the new-fangled generation likes to write. End of rant.)

SENIORS WHO SHINED: South Gwinnett linebacker Malik Robinson (6-1, 225) is committed to North Carolina. He was all over the field and had double digit stops and a late pick six. Stud.

Robinson’s teammate, quarterback Seth Johnston, is a fine player at 6-3, 190. He scored twice on the ground and tossed a pair of TD strikes. He told a teammate on the sideline, “I don’t aim those deep balls with the great athletes we have. I just wind up and chunk that bitch.” I laughed. He has a good arm.

For the Bulldogs, Jamichael Baldwin (5-10, 155) played well in all three phases. He made some tough runs, broke up some passes, and returned a punt 65 yards to set up a score.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Comets nose guard/offensive guard Robert Cooper (6-3, 340) is already pledged to Florida State, and he looked good, but his classmate, receiver Terrell Smith (6-1, 170) was outstanding. Smith’s combination of speed and hands will take him places. He gained 31 yards on a middle screen.

Comets defensive end Abi Okonji (6-3, 240) is getting long looks from the SEC and ACC. He tends to join Mascoll in the backfield. He has a bit of a temper, but that shows he’s a competitor.

Rockdale tight end Dexter Manior (the coach’s son) is a solid player both blocking and receiving. He showed out on a 39-yard catch-and-run to set up a touchdown.

SUPER SOPHS:  South Gwinnett’s Jalen “Showtime” Samuels is a stud running back corner at 5-10, 175. He’s quick. The same can be said for his teammate, corner Jaden Woods (5-10, 155). I also liked receiver Adrian Compton (6-1, 170), who looked good on a 50-yard reception from Johnston.

CRIMSON CONNECTION: I thought it was cool that 2016 South Gwinnett Homecoming Queen Kiara Tompkins said via the PA announcer that she hoped to attend The University of Alabama. She later told me that she has submitted her application and attended the reception for prospective UA students hosted by the Atlanta Alumni Chapter. Maybe one day she’ll be Bama’s homecoming queen.

HOW BOUT ‘THEM BURGERS: Not bad, but they were cooked a little well for my taste. Hunger and a lot of ketchup and mustard helped matters. I bought mine on the home side. They smelled better on the visitors. Maybe I should have waited.

HOW BOUT THAT SEAFOOD: It may be a chain, but the menu at California Dreaming in Duluth, Ga., is loaded with good entrees. I tried the seafood platter, and loved the plump, tasty shrimp and the fried fish, too. The baked potato with bacon bits and butter hit the spot, too. The service was excellent, the food hot and tasty, and again, that menu… Some other entrees include ribs, steaks, and an appetizer onion loaf, all to be tried sooner than later. Bon apetit!

NEXT UP: Depending on playoffs, this may or may not be FNL’s lone trip to Alabama this fall, but it’s going to be a good one either way. Tide commitment Markail Benton will be at linebacker and his teammate, junior Justyn Ross at receiver will host Robert E. Lee. The 6-1 Generals were upset by Auburn High this week, but feature Tide receiver lean Henry Ruggs III, a senior. Should be fun!

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